Norfolk Academy welcomed the Class of 2020 back to campus on Friday, December 17, 2021, to celebrate a group whose senior year ended most unusually.
The 2020 graduates were the first seniors impacted by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Virginia's school campuses were required to close in March 2020, causing the final three months of that school year to be held online.
Still, the group thrived, branching out to almost 50 different colleges and universities, a diverse list that includes military institutions, Ivy League schools, and flagships across Virginia and North Carolina, just to name a few.
This outstanding group gathered in the Refectory on December 17 for a luncheon with faculty, where Headmaster Dennis Manning greeted them with two words that set the theme, “Welcome home."
Sean Miller '20, who was co-valedictorian of the class, and teacher-coach Tom Duquette spoke. Laura Read '20, who had lead roles in several Winter Musicals, sang the national anthem.
Mr. Duquette called on the group to respond positively to change, offering reflections built around an insight from famed UCLA basketball coach John Wooden: “Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be."
He spoke about three NA alumni who challenged themselves to shift gears and found success as a result, noting: “Their stories encourage us to embrace change, whether we seek it out or whether it comes uninvited."
Sean wove his speech around three themes: success, change, and family. He noted that the Class of 2020 always showed up to cheer one another, especially for athletics and arts performances.
“We remember the victories because we were there to see it," he said, and that tradition of support kept the Class connected as a family.